A video of a young woman with POTS and her therapy dog went viral this week on Facebook.
Harlow, a 15-month old service dog, helps her owner with tasks such as laundry, dishes, fetching water, opening and closing doors, keeping her safe at the gym, sitting with her when she feels faint or is in pain, and most of all, giving her unconditional love.
So many of us with chronic illness benefit from having a companion animal--therapy dog or not.
Asher taught me that a dog can be completely in tune and intuitive with his owner's illness. He taught me that faithfulness and loyalty are unfailing in a dog.
|With Asher in 2010--2nd Worst Year of My Life!|
Before Asher, we had two other dogs, both of whom I loved like crazy. However, being home sick with a dog 24/7 creates a very different kind of bond.
When it was time to find another dog for our family, we seriously considered finding a service/therapy dog for me, however, we discovered the process didn't seem doable for our family for a variety of reasons.
|Mr. G: Always By Our Side|
Instead we decided that what we needed and wanted more than anything was a dog (oh, right, that turned into dogS!!!), who would be a companion animal, a source of comfort on those long, hard sick days.
|Kisses for G|
Life has changed so much since we brought these two fur kids into our lives 4 years ago.
|Tovah Rose is DEFINITEY Winning this Race!|
Even though my health has dramatically changed, I still need these two fur kids of mine more than ever.
Because I'm still chronically ill, I still struggle with the ups and downs of illness and the limitations it imposes on my life.
|This Girl is FAST!|
And it's absolutely impossible to go through a day without smiling and laughing at these two bright quirky personalities we have around here.
As I heal, the puppies continue to be an important part of my motivation to get up every day and to improve my health.
I am most in the moment when I am engaged in an activity with the puppies. As many of you know, I was able to take an agility class with them over the summer.
On our trip to Maine, what gave me such incredible joy was sharing so many adventures with the puppies.
In Maine, every day was centered around an outing, and most days we could take the puppies. I think having them with me at Acadia, in Bar Harbor, on the Nature Cruise, sitting outside on the Peace Bench or on the deck at the house doubled my joy.
I'm never as happy as I am when I am with these two.
They're funny and goofy and curious and full of life. They get lots of attention and we meet so many new people.
And they are always here, every day, offering unconditional love. (Or is it conditional on whether or not they get their kefir for a snack?! :))
I love, love, love being able to engage with them more and more with each passing day. Many days I am able to take them for a walk--and it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment to know that, not only, did I get a walk for myself, but I gave them something they really need.
I get out their afternoon snack every day. It makes all of us happy.
They help keep me motivated to walk farther (or go out for a walk when I really don't think I have it in me!). If I'm struggling to walk, feeling my heart racing and like I'm walking through molasses that day, I'll focus on the puppies and what they are watching or how Tovah wiggles her little butt when she walks or how Gershwin keeps looking up at me to make sure he's doing a good job at walking.
|Gershwin Leor Loves to Hang Out in the Flower Beds|
Whether at my sickest or the healthiest I've known to date, Tovah Rose and Gershwin are a crucial and important part of my every day well-being, survival, and healing.
I take one of them to my counseling sessions. When I used the wheelchair for all of my outings, I was more likely to go out because we had the dogs with us. It took the focus off of the chair and turned it towards the cute dogs we had. I still find that the dogs are a huge source of anxiety control for me because I spend most of my time answering questions about them, rather than focusing on 'what's wrong with me'.
The truth is that, sometimes, I wonder if I would have ever had the courage to use the wheelchair had it not been for Asher, Tovah Rose and Gershwin. Using the wheelchair and going places in it has always been one of the hardest things for me.
I'd be lost without these two.
I'm so fortunate to have a Mom/caregiver who is willing to take care of two extra beings so that I can benefit from the healing, love and joy these two offer me.
We had these photos taken last October, almost a year ago to the day.
Somehow, I never shared very many of them.
Today and during Dysautonomia Awareness Month, I felt that Tovah Rose and Gershwin deserved an extra shout out for all that they do for their Dysautonomia Mommy.
They are no small part of this journey.
They'd also like to say a little hello to: Sarah (Kristen's pup), Frodo (Rachel's pup) and Mac (Corina's pup) because they know just how much joy these fur babies bring to their mommies with Dysautonomia.